By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
* Spoiler Alert
If Fantastic Beasts is retconning the Wizarding World as we know it from the world of Harry Potter, fans are likely to complain. The Crimes of Grindelwald is The Two Towers of this spinoff saga. It sets in motion a quest to stop the deeds to which this nefarious character, played by Johnny Depp, has plans to commit. The actions he committed in the past are a concern, but in this sequel, this villain’s future goals will shake up the world in devastating ways. At the same time, we are teased with glimpses of the tools he has at his disposal. He possesses at least one-third of the Deathly Hallows.
Trailers and the last film spotlighted this enigmatic symbol. The sequel puts into play the wand. This detail is known to those looking at all the preview material leading up to the movie’s premiere. The second object is uncertain though I guess whatever is in the vial and the involvement of Nicolas Flamel is important.
A less important thread concerning romance gets a nod too; can love conquer all? Who loves who takes second place. Newt (Eddie Redmayne) still has feelings for Tina (Katherine Waterston). Jacob (Dan Fogler) is under Queenie (Alison Sudol)’s enchantment; as for whether that was necessary for her to do, this theme implies more to the series because she sees using her powers a means to an end.
In a new war to which Grindelwald wants to happen, he believes a new regime will rise. Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law certainly steals the show in his steely performance) cannot get involved, but the British Ministry of Magic says otherwise. Newt’s role is to help Dumbledore. This film continues where the last left off, to find the not dead Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller).
J. K. Rowling‘s sprawling narrative is jam-packed with development from many angles. A second screening was required for me to catch further details. Part two is enjoyable but long. This includes looking for key moments which I believe will be important in the sequels. On the back of my mind was on how many members of the Lestrange family name decided to become Slytherin. There were many name drops, and if Adonis is of an important French bloodline, perhaps he may come in. Another name mentioned as Mustafa Kasa (sp?).
A glowing silver pendant is this film’s MacGuffin and will be important to later films. It is well known that the evildoer has the Death Wand because of the promos and trailers. But could the Resurrection Stone be closer than we thought? Suddenly, the fact both figures keep it close suggests The Deathly Hallows will make up the overall arc for this saga.
All the answers fans crave will not get fully known until the release of the final film in 2024. The schedule set for the remaining films was reported on Digital Spy.
Only so much of the overall plot can be remembered as the years go by. Five films may be too much. I rather see a trilogy. When Rowling wants to create an entire world that’s a task which requires more than five new films to cover. Depp is the master villain and he’s certainly up to the challenge. I found him cold and calculating–imbued with a touch of fascist arrogance ala Joseph Stalin–a complete opposite to Captain Jack. I look forward to seeing more him in future films. When Grindelwald is asking for a call to arms, to spread the word of his mission, the world better get ready!
I am wondering if Petunia, the name of Grindelwald’s familiar is Harry Potter’s aunt, resurrected. Rowling expanded the magical menagerie of beasts to include creatures from China (a creature perhaps related to the Pixiu, though Newt said, “Qilin” in the film), Indonesia (Nigini), Japan (Kappa), I particularly enjoyed seeing the former lion-like creature take the stage. The way Newt and the flier get cuddly reminds me of how Hiccup gained Toothless’ trust. I hope DreamWorks does not take an issue to the similarities.
Fans have lots of expectations for this series and know part of J. K. Rowling’s roadmap of what’s to come. The Deathly Hallows is important, and I theorize, Dumbledore, Grindelwald, and Barebone are the modern-day versions of the original brothers seeking to master Death. The whole muggles versus magi debate is just as much of a thorn back then as it is present-day (until Rowling pens a sequel saga). As for how these ideas flow into the Harry Potter series depends on the last film and not pulling a George Lucas maneuver by shifting focus on who the heroes are. Newt is the reluctant hero, and even here we see he has to choose a side instead of sitting it out.
3½ Stars out of 5